Hannah sat on her gravestone twiddling her thumbs, her long blondish-brown hair fluttering in the wind. Sighing at the warm evening breeze, she slid from her headstone to the dusty ground. She shuffled through the autumn leaves sending a stale, musty scent to her nose.
A solitary bullfrog croaked in the distance. Hannah puffed up her cheeks and croaked back. Several frogs peeped and clucked in response. Hannah shrugged and continued to meander toward the cemetery gates.
Boredom set in quickly these days. She thought about running through the backyards of the adjacent street, upsetting the dogs and getting them to yowl. She considered going to the local dime store and mixing up the perfume labels, but neither idea appealed to her that night. In fact, everything and nothing appealed to her. Her stomach kept doing loop-de-loops. That never happened, not since she died.
Was death becoming monotonous? She died a long time ago, just after her seventh birthday. She’d been playing in the tiny creek behind her house after dark and caught a cold. The cold developed into a fever. She went to sleep two nights later and never woke.
Newly dead, she’d stayed with her mother all the time. As time wore on and her mother began interacting with the world again, Hannah spent her days and nights watching the people in her little town.
She visited Madam Leona’s séance several times. The madam chanted and moaned while a man pulled switches and made thumping sounds behind a secret door. People always gasped. Once a lady squeaked like a mouse. After the tenth séance, Hannah gave them a real scare by setting off the indoor sprinklers. The hidden man burst from his cubbyhole, tripped over cords, and flipped on switches. Lights flickered. Bells rang. The madam screamed. People ran from the building. Hannah stood by the window remembering, smiling, then moved on.
She strolled along Main Street. People gathered on the corners and in front of buildings. Ladies wore brightly colored dresses and giggled when the men walked up to them. After all the evenings she’d watched this play out, Hannah still thought it was funny and snickered.
As she passed the movie theater, her heart began to ache, followed by a yearning and an old feeling of warmth and happiness. Pulled by an urgent need, Hannah moved around the town through walls and buildings and into a dimly lit place.
Machines blinked and sounds beeped. She looked around the plain gray room. A large curtain divided the space. Hannah stood by a high bed with metal sidebars. A frail hand rested on top of a yellow blanket. Hannah reached for the hand. Alarms went off.
A nurse rushed in followed by a doctor. While the nurse turned off the machines, the doctor held the frail wrist. He stuck the ends of a stethoscope into his ears, and pressed the other end onto the person’s chest and waited, moved it across the chest, and waited again.
He looked at the clock on the wall. “Time of death 22:36.”
A woman stood at the edge of the bed. She turned and smiled at Hannah.
Hannah’s world titled and blurred. Dizzy, she rubbed her eyes wondering if what she saw was real. Her heart lightened.
“Hannah, baby, is that my Hannah?” the woman asked.
“Mama, oh mama, mama,” Hannah cried. Tears fells from her eyes as she flung herself into her mother’s arms.
“It’s okay baby girl, I’m here now.” She hugged her daughter and kissed her cheek as her own tears fell.
“Shall I notify the next of kin, Doctor?”
“No, she was alone.”
Hannah grinned and squeezed her mama’s hand as the two turned and walked into the night.
Originally published in Bards and Sages Quarterly.